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26.01.2021

ANAS Institute of Folklore held an online meeting about the establishmet of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair on folk music heritage and storytelling traditions

On January 26, 2020, with the organization of the ANAS Institute of Folklore an online roundtable was held on the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair on folk music heritage and storytelling traditions. The meeting was attended by well-known UNESCO experts and the results of the work carried out to create this Chair and the prospects of the Chair's activities were discussed there. The director of the Institute of Folklore, academician Mukhtar Kazimoglu-Imanov mentioned that one more project was added to the services of the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva in the development of Azerbaijan-UNESCO relations. Thus, on April 30, 2018 an official appeal was made to UNESCO for the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair on folk music heritage and storytelling traditions under the Institute of Folklore of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

Along with the goals and action plan of the Chair, the application documents provide information about the activities of the ANAS Institute of Folklore and Ashiq Shamshir's legacy. Letters of support from public organizations such as the National Commission of Azerbaijan for UNESCO, the Yunus Emre Institute, higher education institutions, and non-governmental organizations of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia were also attached to the application documents. On October 2, 2020, the UNESCO Director-General signed the agreement regarding the establishment of UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair on folk music heritage and storytelling traditions under the Institute of Folklore of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. On December 22, 2020 the logo of the Chair was also approved by the UNESCO Secretariat.


This Chair, named after the prominent Azerbaijani saz master Ashiq Shamshir, is the first UNESCO Chair in the world in the field of storytelling traditions. Therefore, it will play the role of a UNESCO chair, which is important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the world. The Chair will serve as a center for practitioners and scientists of folk music and storytelling studies.
About 40 scientific and cultural institutions operating in Azerbaijan and around the world sent written support for the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair. Among them are the National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO, the Ashiq Shamshir Cultural Center Public Union, the Institute of Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi, the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, the Union of Ashiqs of Azerbaijan, Yunus Emre Institute, as well as the Georgian Art and Culture Center, the Foundation for Cultural Studies of Turkey, Tbilisi State University.


Isa Habibbayli, The Vice-President of ANAS, director of the Institute of Literature named after Nizami Ganjavi, congratulated the staff of the Institute of Folklore and the scientific community on the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair. He mentioned the registration of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair as an important cultural event.

Ganira Pashayeva, Chairman of the Committee of Culture of the Azerbaijani Parliament, spoke about the role of Ashiq Shamshir in the continuation and enrichment of the ancient traditions of Azerbaijani ashiq art. She expressed hope that the Chair would become a center for the promotion of Azerbaijani folk music, folk epics, especially the oral folk literature and music of Karabakh, as well as the legacy of Ashiq Shamshir at the international level.

Javid Gurbanov, grandson of Ashiq Shamshir, expressed his deep gratitude to everyone who contributed to the establishment of the Chair, especially UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva in the field of oral folk literature and music traditions.

In his speech, Prof.Dr. Maharram Gasimli, the Chairman of the Union of Ashiqs of Azerbaijan, mentioned that this event is actually a great scientific holiday and noted that Asiq Shamshir had a great role in the continuation and enrichment of the traditions of Azerbaijani ashiq art. He added that the scientist Amina Eldarova had had an invaluable role in promoting Ashiq Shamshir's legacy in Azerbaijan.

Prof.Dr. Ocal Oguz, Secretary-General of the National Commission of Turkey for UNESCO, and Prof.Dr. Metin Ekici, Head of the Turkish World Research Institute of Ege University, mentioned that mutual cooperation between Azerbaijani and Turkish ashiqs is very important and it would be of great benefit.

Elnur Sultanov, Ambassador of Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO, congratulated the participants on the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair, he added that the Chair would serve to promote the traditions of Azerbaijani folk music and storytelling in the world and cooperation among UNESCO Chairs. Noting that this Chair, named after Ashiq Shamshir, is the first UNESCO Chair in the world in the field of storytelling, Elnur Sultanov mentioned the importance of the work to increase the number of UNESCO chairs on a number of new directions that meet the priorities of state policy in the activities of the National Commission.

Secretary-General said that Azerbaijan had become a reliable partner and donor state of UNESCO and mentioned the exceptional services of First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva in expanding our cooperation with UNESCO in all areas, at the same time promoting ideas and goals of the organization, in the protection and transmission of our cultural heritage to future generations.

Speaking about the nominations such as “Azerbaijani mugham” (2008), “Azerbaijani ashiq art” (2009) and “Dede Gorgud's heritage: epic culture, folk tales and music” (2018) inscribed on the “Representative List of intangible cultural heritage of humanity” of UNESCO, Elnur Sultanov mentioned that the newly created Chair includes those listed topics. He stressed the importance of the establishment of the UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair on folk music heritage and storytelling traditions in terms of international recognition and promotion of rich intangible cultural heritage elements.

Vasif Eyvazzade, Head of the Administration of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan, wished success to the Institute of Folklore in the future activity of the Chair.

Shahlar Asgarov, Chairman of the Public Council under the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Siyavush Karimi, rector of the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, spoke about the importance of Ashiq Shamshir's legacy and wished success to the Institute of Folklore in the future work. Fazil Gasimov, Representative of “Ashiq Shamshir” Cultural Center Public Union for UNESCO, noted the importance of cooperation of UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair with UNESCO chairs operating in the field of intangible cultural heritage in different countries of the world.

Prof.Dr. Ramazan Gafarli, head of the Department of Dede Gorgud of the ANAS Institute of Folklore, and Prof.Dr. Seyfaddin Rzasoy, head of the Department of Mythology of the ANAS Institute of Folklore, noted the establishment of UNESCO “Ashiq Shamshir” Chair as a great scientific and cultural event.

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